Emily Augenbraun ’20: Puentes de Salud

Name: Emily Augenbraun
Class Year: 2020
Major: Spanish
Hometown: Philadelphia

Internship Organization: Puentes de Salud
Job Title: “Puentes Hacia el Futuro” Summer Camp Volunteer Intern
Location: Andrew Jackson School, Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

For my internship this summer, I am one of the 15 volunteer interns for the “Puentes Hacia el Futuro” summer camp program. Puentes de Salud is a nonprofit organization that works with the growing Latinx community in South Philadelphia. Their summer camp program, “Puentes Hacia el Futuro,” is a four-week summer literacy program that specifically focuses on preventing the “summer slide” or summer reading setback. The students that are participating in this program are bilingual and mostly speak Spanish in their homes; however, the summer camp program encourages the use of both English and Spanish. Each week there is a designated theme; for example, week one was art and culture. The group of students that I am working with are a mixture of both rising fifth and sixth graders; however, there are also younger students participating in this program. Throughout the day, I am working in a team with three other volunteer interns in a classroom with nine students total. The day is split up into two parts, with the morning being mainly focused on reading and writing with the group of students, while in the afternoon there are other enrichment activities such as art, healthy living, and coding. The students also have weekly library trips and field trips every week on Thursdays that connect to the theme of the week. I have enjoyed learning about each individual student in this program while also getting to know my fellow interns!

Why did you apply for this internship?

Although I am from Philadelphia, when I initially found out about this internship I did not know much about the organization. Of course this led me to do some further research online, and I soon realized that Puentes de Salud was a quick bus ride away from where I live. Additionally, in researching the organization online, this internship sounded like the perfect fit for me as a current Spanish major. I’ve always been passionate about being able to foster a bilingual learning environment for children who speak both English and Spanish. I want children who are bilingual to realize that they have an incredible gift that they should take advantage of on a daily basis and this internship has allowed me to encourage this ,which has been extremely rewarding.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

Because this is a teaching-based internship, I am learning many important skills about how to be flexible and adapt to different students’ needs and learning styles in the classroom. Additionally, I am learning to be patient with students who learn at a different pace than others. As a person who is interested in exploring a potential career path in the education field, this firsthand experience of working with students who have diverse backgrounds has given me the opportunity to expand my perspective on teaching. As an educator and role model to these students, I must recognize that each person is a unique learner and continue to encourage them no matter how difficult a task may seem.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

It has been truly amazing to watch all of these young students engage in the different activities that my fellow interns and I have led throughout the summer. Their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious! I love that I am a positive role model and someone that they can look up to when they come to camp each day. They are all so self-aware even at such a young age and have so much to offer in classroom conversations. They have shared stories about themselves and been extremely vulnerable about opening up to each other in the classroom about their own backgrounds and identities. For example, when my fellow interns and I led a group discussion on the different aspects of one’s identity this past week, all of the students were very respectful of each other’s feelings and not making judgements. I hope to be able to maintain the relationships that I have built with these students and I look forward to seeing them grow into strong individuals in the future.